Concerned with the presumed accelerated loss of agricultural land, the authorities have enacted, through a specialised act, Government Emergency Ordinance no. 34/2013, regarding the organisation, management and exploitation of permanent pastures and for the amendment and supplementation of Real estate law 18/1991 (“GEO 34”).
GEO 34 appears to have been urgently needed due to some incapacity of putting into effect of a previous act, law 214/2011 regarding organisation, management and exploitation of pastures (“Law 214”). Law 214 contained inconsistencies that made it impossible to apply and therefore made it necessary for the authorities to remedy the situation, by means of GEO 34. In addition, an explanation of the urgency of GEO 34 was that important EU funds were to be applied for in two days from its entry into force. Of course, the Ministry of Agriculture had a month from the entry into force of GEO 34 to prepare the secondary legislation.
Nevertheless, looking ahead, we must point out the important aspects regulated by GEO 34:
- Its purpose is the regulation of the organisation, management and exploitation of permanent pastures. A permanent pasture is agricultural land that has been used for grazing and growing forage for animals and declared as pasture land. In practice, if land has been declared as pasture land and has remained with this status for five years, then it becomes a permanent pasture, according to GEO 34.
- GEO 34 has a general and uniform coverage, as it regulates all sorts of pastures, whether publicly owned or private, all across Romania.
- The most important restriction – GEO 34 forbids the removal from the agricultural circuit of pasture land. Effectively, this would translate into a complete prohibition to build anything on pasture land.
- This restriction is permanent and is passed to whatever successors, therefore, changing the ownership of pasture land does not allow avoidance of this restriction.
- As expected, there are still some exceptions to this restriction. In several particular cases, the removal of pasture land from the agricultural circuit is allowed:
- for the emplacement of public-interest projects;
- for objectives of national security;
- works which are part of local/county/regional development projects;
- for the emplacement of constructions serving agricultural works;
- for mountain refuges;
for the emplacement of renewable energy projects, as long as:
- these do not hinder the “good exploitation of the pasture”, and
- these projects have been declared of public utility works of local, county or national interest, by decision issued by the competent authority.